Never been much of a studier? Get ready to change that! Missionaries spend 2 to 3 hours studying depending on whether they’re learning a new language. New missionaries can expect to add an extra hour to that for companionship study with your trainer. Some missionaries have a hard time adjusting. It is a large chunk of your day after all, and you have to sit, be diligent and focus. It takes a lot of getting used to.
It’s times like these when you need to remember the purpose of your studies; it’s definitely not free time. No, this time was given to you so you can prepare to teach your investigators, members, and less-actives. Don’t make the mistake of believing that your calling alone is enough to teach with the power of God. Look at the sons of Mosiah. They didn’t just travel on up to the Lamanites and teach whatever came into their heads. The Book of Mormon tells us that they first, “searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore. . . they had the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God” (Alma 17:2-3). In other words, if you want the Spirit of revelation, you need to work for it.
If you want to teach with the power and authority of God, make your studies meaningful and effective. How can you do that? Here’s some ideas that might help:
1. Make a plan — Figure out how you’re going to use every minute of your study hour. Divide it up so that you’re getting more than one thing done. For example, during companionship study, you, along with your companion, can read the scriptures together for 10 minutes, study Preach My Gospel for 10 minutes, plan lessons for the people you’re teaching that day for 30 minutes and, with the remaining 10, practice those lessons. Planning your hour is more effective than spending an entire hour on skimming Jesus the Christ or reading the Liahona in your mission language.
2. List needs —This is a great idea to help you focus on the people that matter the most— your investigators. Before you study, write down the names of the people you’re teaching and think about what each individual needs. What do they need to know, feel, and do in order to grow in faith in the Savior? By starting off with their specific problems, doubts, and questions in mind, you’ll be centered on finding answers for them throughout your studies (and your purpose will seem clearer).
3. Study journal — You’ll hear this one time and time again throughout your mission, and for good reason. A study journal allows you to write down revelation that you receive. By writing things down, you have the opportunity to reflect and ponder, making you more open to the promptings of the Spirit. In relating a personal experience with receiving revelation, Elder Richard G. Scott said, “As each impression came, I carefully wrote it down. In the process, I was given precious truths that I greatly needed in order to be a more effective servant of the Lord.”(See To Acquire Spiritual Guidance). By recording your impressions and studying them, you too will receive instruction from the Lord that will help you teach with power.
4. Read Preach My Gospel Chapter 2 — Chapter 2 is filled with suggestions for study time. Select one or two things that you want to apply in your studies. Make them a habit, and then choose more to do.
Remember, everything you’re studying needs a purpose behind it. That purpose should revolve around inviting others to come unto Christ. Make each study activity meaningful by centering it on the people you teach. Ask yourself, “How does this activity benefit my investigators?” The more effort you put into studying, the better prepared you’ll be to teach. That’s a promise (D&C 84:85).